Why It’s Important for Chronic Disease Patients to Have Open Conversations with Their Provider
The basis of any good relationship is open, honest communication. This extends to your relationship with your primary care provider.
If you are living with a chronic disease, then it’s imperative for you to build and maintain a close, trusted relationship with your doctor, where you feel safe and comfortable sharing your physical and emotional challenges and asking questions.
Watch the video: Why It’s Important for Chronic Disease Patients to Have Open Conversations with Their Provider
The Four Pillars of Doctor-Patient Relationships
- Mutual Knowledge – meaning the doctor knows about the patient’s condition, and the patient knows about the physician’s competency in treating their condition
- Trust – refers to the confidence and faith a patient has that the doctor can help them manage their condition. The doctor trusts the patient is open to reporting their symptoms, beliefs, and concerns
- Loyalty – Patient loyalty refers to their willingness to forgive and give their doctor another chance when the proposed treatment doesn’t provide the expected results. On the other hand, doctors need to commit to their patients and not abandon them until they have had a chance to find another primary care provider
- Regard – This implies that the patient feels their doctor likes them and is on their side
Common Communication Traps
As patients, we hold our doctors in high regard, and as a result, we expect them to have all the answers regarding our bodies and health problems.
However, this is the number one communication trap. Although physicians have extensive training and knowledge of the human body and specific conditions, we each experience chronic disease differently.
While it’s true that the framework of care is often standardized based on prevailing medical data, for treatment strategies to be personalized, you and your doctor must work together.
Therefore, it’s crucial for you to share information about your symptoms, reactions, and perceptions, to help your doctor refine their treatment management.
Another obstacle to open communication between patients and doctors is withholding information, thinking it’s unrelated to your disease. However, it’s essential to understand that living with a chronic disease impacts all areas of your life, and emotional distress is just as significant as physical distress.
Part of your doctor’s commitment is to treat your physical condition and help you improve your quality of life so you can pursue your passions and live your best life despite your illness.
Tips to Improve Communication with Your Doctor
- Be Prepared – Before your next appointment, make a list of questions or concerns you would like to address.
- Ask for Clarification – Your doctor doesn’t expect you to know all the technical terms. If they use a word you are unfamiliar with, ask them to please explain further
- Ask them to Help You Define Your Health Goals – It’s natural to expect vast improvements in record time when we start a new treatment. However, not having clear goals and knowing what to expect can affect your emotional well-being should the results be less than you imagined.
- Don’t be Afraid to Speak – First, allow your doctor to speak and ask pertinent questions. Afterward, try explaining it back to them to ensure you understand correctly. If this is not the case, your doctor can re-explain and answer your questions.
- Let Them Know Your Preferred Learning Method – We all learn differently; some are more visual, and others need quiet time to read and digest information. Of course, you can’t expect your doctor to know you absorb information better when you have a visual aid, so make sure to let them know and ask them to recommend sites where you can learn more at your own pace.
- Slow it Down – If your doctor is speaking too fast, don’t be afraid to politely ask them to slow down their pace so you can follow the conversation.
- Ask for a Recap – A lot of information is shared during a doctor consult, and sometimes we forget instructions. Ask your doctor what’s the best way to contact them to ask for a recap.
Managing your chronic illness is a team effort. Opening to your healthcare team allows your doctor to promptly reevaluate drug doses and the efficiency of your disease management and gives you more control over it.